Why Israel needs Netanyahu -opinion

It takes a special kind of person to be prime minister with diplomatic and political experience gathered over many years in the business.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett addresses the UN General Assembly, last September. Unlike Bennett, during whose speech the hall was sparsely occupied, Netanyahu is recognized internationally as an accomplished statesman, says the writer.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett addresses the UN General Assembly, last September. Unlike Bennett, during whose speech the hall was sparsely occupied, Netanyahu is recognized internationally as an accomplished statesman, says the writer.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

From time to time, Israel experiences political turmoil, which in recent years has repeatedly resulted in the collapse of the government, followed by general elections that were an unnecessary financial burden on the country.

History has shown that the outcome was never conclusive, and that the political views of the electorate were almost evenly split between varying versions of right-leaning views and between left-wing perceptions of how to proceed.

One sector felt that the religious character of the state is being eroded, another that only Jewish sovereignty over all of Israel will be the answer and a third insists on having full Arab participation in governing Israel. It is an example of the proverbial “ask two Jews, get three opinions.”

It is a fact that today, our political situation has deteriorated into a yawning abyss, generated by the Bennett-Lapid government’s repeated accommodations to their coalition partner Mansour Abbas and his Islamist Arab Ra’am party, a known sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On June 12, 2021, The Jerusalem Post wrote about Ra’am’s plans and intentions: “...within the party’s 80-page charter, which outlines the party’s political agenda, the party makes its denouncement of Zionism clear, calling it a racist ideology and demanding the right of return for Palestinians expelled in 1948...” That alone shows the futility of accepting Ra’am in government.

While I am totally opposed to the legitimacy of Arab claims to overall ownership of this land for reasons and the evidence that I have laid out several times in another publication, I must, today, accept the presence within Israel of an Arab constituency with the right and opportunity to exercise its own culture, so long as it is within the laws of our country.

Arab individuals with the necessary credentials and qualification should be eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship, while those who chose permanent residence will be restricted to the rights and obligations prescribed by their local council.

Unfortunately, the civic control which obtains in the Arab parts of eastern Jerusalem and the exclusively Arab towns and villages has for years been allowed to decline to the extent that it deteriorated into mob rule.

It is also a little known fact that the uncontrolled and unplanned illegal construction in the Arab part of eastern Jerusalem was in fact legally authorized by the local mukhtar under the mukhtar protocol, the most corrupt, discriminatory procedures instituted by the State of Israel.


Regavim, an Israeli NGO that monitors illegal construction undertaken by Arabs in Israel explains that this is a longstanding procedural practice, which was used as the basis to establish ownership or for construction permits and other legal processes. It replaced the requirement for documented proof of ownership simply by the say-so of local village experts.

In eastern Jerusalem, the testimony of a local village chief, a mukhtar, sufficed as opposed to the burden of proof, actual records, deeds, or other legal documentation required everywhere else.

This strange, antiquated procedure was an open invitation to widespread corruption, including wholesale land giveaways and illegal land deals, forgery of documents and deeds, bribes and false testimony. To make matters worse, officially designated by the government, these mukhtars were paid a hefty fee for their expert testimony.

Regavim spearheaded a public awareness and protest campaign against this procedure, with the help of, among others, MK Orit Strock and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King. Their efforts were finally successful, when earlier this week, the mukhtar protocol was cancelled. Arabs in Jerusalem must now provide legal proof for property ownership just like everyone else.

Government inaction

Successive government’s inaction over the years has resulted in the loss of thousands of dunams of land to fraudulent claims and the erosion of governance; finally, a success by the outgoing minister of justice.

IT WAS inevitable that the present government has collapsed and today, Israel is facing another election. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has, deservedly, the dubious distinction of having been prime minister for the shortest time ever following a general election and now, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will finally be able fulfill his dream and add the prime ministership to his biography, even if only through an unusual circumstance and as caretaker until the election.

Bennett and Lapid led what they proudly called their Government of Change. It was indeed a change, even from previous left-leaning governments.

Because never before in the history of Israel has a hostile Arab party held the balance of power in the Knesset; and to my knowledge, never in our 74 years of existence has a prime minister conceded demand after demand by an Arab party in Knesset to secure their votes.

Israel's political future

Today, Israel stands once again at the crossroads of its political future. The coalition of the left has demonstrably failed the country. Instead of supporting a housing program for the expanding families in Israel’s heartland of Judea and Samaria, this government has legalized the unauthorised development of Arab settlements that are encroaching on the access to our Jewish towns and villages.

This policy has been demonstrated to encourage terrorist acts, necessitating increased presence of security forces at vulnerable locations. Another result of sacrificing the security of the Jewish population for power at any cost.

Every government has had its share of criticism from some sectors of the population on a variety of internal policies, but none has given such blatant housing preference to the Arab sector as this prime minister who capitulated time and again to the blackmail of Mansour Abbas and the Ra’am party to ensure the continuance of his fragile government.

It takes a special kind of person to be prime minister with diplomatic and political experience gathered over many years in the business. Bennett just did not have it and should never have attempted it. His success in commerce did not equip him to lead our country.

 Of course, no prime minister has exceptional talent or qualifications in all aspects of government, but foreign policy and diplomacy are paramount for the security of Israel. And this brings me to Benjamin Netanyahu. There have been occasions when I have severely criticized him for having made promises that he never kept and that is still valid.

 But I realize that I must put aside my censure of his failure to fulfil his promise of extending sovereignty to the Jordan valley and his neglect to protect our heartland of Judea and Samaria, because the priority today is the rouge state of Iran led by Shia Islamist fundamentalists, who openly and repeatedly threaten the existence of our Jewish state. That is particularly ominous because they are not far from nuclear breakout.

Netanyahu has demonstrated on several occasions that he has the ability to convince the international community of the danger of a nuclear Iran not only to Israel but to the stability of the Middle East.

Unlike Bennett, during whose speech to the UN assembly the hall was sparsely occupied, Netanyahu is recognized internationally as an accomplished statesman, respected and listened to by his fellow foreign leaders. He was instrumental with president Trump in accomplishing the Abraham Accords under his premiership there were promising negotiations with at least one more country.

A general election has been declared to take place on or after October 25. In light of the important security considerations, particularly regarding Iran, it is imperative that the electorate will, this fifth time in three years, finally decide to put aside personal animosities, put an end to party politics that produce inoperative coalitions and vote tactically on the basis of national security for a right-wing government to be led by Netanyahu.

Only Netanyahu has the skill to negotiate a comprehensive policy to prevent Iran from becoming a menacing nuclear power and to ensure the backing of the United States, should Israel have to go it alone.

The writer, at 98, is the oldest working journalist and radio talk show host; both are Guinness World Records. He hosts Walter’s World on Israel National Radio and The Walter Bingham File on Israel Newstalk Radio, and regularly contributes to The Jerusalem Report.